Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Next Town Over

Still hammering away at a short story I need to finish and turn in by, oh gee, tomorrow. In the meantime, however, let's talk about Next Town Over (http://www.nexttownover.net/), by Erin Mehlos.

The story thus far pits Vane Black, apparent bounty hunter and vengeful revenant—raised from the dead by magic, but kept upright by her own brand of steampunk blacksmithry—against outlaw/magician John Henry Hunter, a charming bastard with a positive fetish for shiny jewelry and good horseflesh. Since Hunter's pyromantic/necromantic skillz seem to be what gave literal rise to Vane's condition, one can assume they have a complicated history (he also calls her “darlin'”, which rings as somewhat of a giveaway, from my POV). One way or the other, she'll do anything to keep on his trail, including crippling a local smith in order to use his forge or horsejacking a pair of otherwise perfectly nice muleskinners dumb enough to cut her down after she's been hung—the woman's far more Jonah Hex than Belle Starr, even historically-accurate Belle Starr, is what I'm saying.

With my crappy visual sense, I often tend to gloss over or even not particularly notice the art part of webcomics, but Mehlos's work is striking: Her slightly cartoonish, similarly-featured characters inhabit a landscape that changes depending on the narrative focus. Vane-centric sections, for example, are often minimalist and dialogue-poor as a classic Clint Eastwood film, all empty, epic grass plain and arroyo crags, blurred by pace and motion. Ones involving Hunter, OTOH, have far more pizzaz and snap—much like the shiny red-and-gold fire-magic he splashes out on almost every gesture, big or tiny. Vane comes from the empty places, while Hunter is attracted to small pockets of civilization, where the finer things in life may be found and gained, whether at the point of gun or spell. But both of them are figures of chaos, completely unconcerned with the way their mutual vendetta scars both the land around them and those who inhabit it.

So, yeah: A pair of antiheroes with grey motivations and a flair for the dramatic, plus horses, magic, and punkery of all sorts—no, I wouldn't be interested in that at all, would I? Now, if Mehlos could just update a bit faster...

Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm-A Gonna Tell Ya How It's Gonna Be...

We're moving towards a shiny new era, here at Music at Midnight: Actual content! Yes, boys and girls, there really is no earthly point in maintaining a “professional” blog if you don't actually put stuff in there on a fairly regular basis, and believe you me, I get that. I guess I could stamp my little foot and say: But I've been working, which I have, but that really is no excuse, because I'm always working. There is no point at which I am not working, these days. So yeah, no.;)

Okay, so: Here's what you're going to see, over the next month or so—

1. Interstitial posts about A Tree of Bones: Volume Three of the Hexslinger Series, as we ramp up to publication. Think I'll probably start with the usual playlist post and go from there, but look for later coverage of the problems inherent in writing multi-part action scenes, breakdowns of Camp Pink, Bewelcome, the Underworld and the Hen Party camp, plus the long-awaited Hex City post, with sketches of all sorts of new and old characters along the way.

2. Reviews of various other things I like, starting with cow/steam/magicpunk webcomic Next Town Over (http://www.nexttownover.net/), though this will definitely branch out into things far beyond the realm of the Weird Western.

3. Meta: This could be me talking about various projects, or various issues, or any of the stuff I more often raise over in established spaces like my Livejournal (http://handful_ofdust.livejournal.com): Smurfette Syndrome in mainstream TV shows, for example, or the challenge of trying to write something strikingly different from what I'm now best “known” for. Or hey, the debatable foolishness of continuing to write fanfiction even though I'm supposedly past that stage in my professional evolution (tell that to the 15,000+ words' worth of Lackadaisy slash I pumped out while finishing the last part of Tree). All that.

These things will probably come your way three times a week, though I don't want to promise anything about when those three times might turn out to be. Call it the reason why I kept being defeated by the idea of doing a serial novel, David Wellington-style; it's hard enough for me to make myself write the deadlined stuff, without making myself write things I set my own deadline for.

All right, back to that short story I have to get done sometime in the next two days...

Pre-Order Push

Hi, all. While I realize this blog has been pretty dead in terms of activity, I'm getting ready to rectify that. In the meantime, just a reminder: Hardback copies of A Tree of Bones are now available for pre-order, so if you're thus inclined, please do! You'll find the links here (http://chizinepub.com/books/tree-of-bones.php).